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ABAG Project Director Enjoys the View

Posted By Rebecca Ruggles, Wednesday, February 19, 2014
Updated: Thursday, February 20, 2014
February 19, 2014
By Rebecca Ruggles
Director, Maryland Environmental Health Network
Coordinator, ABAG Green Funders Affinity Group

Sometimes I feel I have the catbird seat! Being a staff member and project director at the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers (ABAG) gives me the privilege of participating in, and learning about, such a rich array of projects, campaigns, and studies. This past month has been particularly rewarding.

Wearing my two hats of directing the Maryland Environmental Health Network (MdEHN) and supporting the ABAG Green Funders affinity group, I get a great view of philanthropy’s impact on some of the most compelling challenges of our region, and - I would say - of our times.

For instance, in the last few weeks I’ve sat in on a Health Funders program on Baltimore’s major advances in improving birth outcomes, co-hosted an Annapolis reception for legislators focused on public health and environmental health issues, listened as affinity group leaders share strategies and topics, helped the Green Funders set their program agenda for the coming year, and participated in the work of the Climate Communications Consortium of Maryland.

This latter project, the brainchild of Stuart Clarke and the Town Creek Foundation, is tackling a fascinating challenge - how to get the message out across Maryland that "over 97% of climate scientists agree that human caused Climate Change is happening”.
The project seeks to convey that while Marylanders are at significant risk, there are many solutions for making our state more resilient in the face of sea level rise, extreme weather, and other threats.

The list does not end there. The Abell Foundation published a report last week about opportunities in Baltimore to build community-owned renewable energy projects. The report documents the potential to make Baltimore more resilient in the face of major power outages, with low income residents benefitting in the process.
It the should be of interest to all ABAG members who invest in community and economic development, work on safety-net issues and/or are concerned about poverty and inequity.

Also on the list of recent intellectual stimulants funded by ABAG members Abell, Campbell, and Bancroft is a Shale Gas Risk Assessment study released last week by Chesapeake Climate Action Network. It fills in a gap in the state’s analysis of risks from future shale gas drilling in Western Maryland. That report offers an independent risk assessment from a leading international environmental consulting group responsible for evaluating fracking risks for the European Commission’s continent-wide regulatory review.

Finally, I’ll close with our Maryland Environmental Health Network annual meeting last month. Our session for MdEHN partners, stakeholders, and funders took place in the midst of a snow day - and over 40 people showed up!
MdEHN Coordinator Allison Rich presented the 2013 accomplishments by MdEHN and our partners, and the list made us all proud. I know that our community and academic partners particularly appreciate the active role played in our MdEHN meetings by foundation staff from the Abell, Hilda & Jacob Blaustein, Zanvyl & Isabelle Krieger, and Town Creek Foundations.

Rebecca Ruggles directs the Maryland Environmental Health Network and serves as staff coordinator for the Green Funders affinity group at ABAG.

Tags:  Adventures in Philanthropy  affinity groups  Green Funders  MdEHN 

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